|Error processing SSI file
Bourgeois and Proletarian
Bourgeois and proletarian... The time which has passed since the Great October Revolution, both permits and demands the examination of the relations between the two most important classes, the two opposed ideologies, from the perspective of the victorious proletariat.
Two problems arise with this plan.
In the first place, in capitalist society, the bourgeoisie, in spite of the fact that it steals from the proletariat, fulfills definite social functions. In order to settle accounts with the bourgeoisie, the proletariat must take upon itself the entire burden of these functions. Sorting through this legacy, throwing out everything which merely provided a livelihood for the bourgeoisie, the activities specific to it, separating out those functions which are unavoidable even in a society without private property, and arranging for their fulfillment, is no easy task.
Secondly, the proletariat does not emerge from the proletarian revolution, cleansed, renewed and ready for communism. No, it carries with it most of the bourgeois relations inculcated in it by capitalist society, it is thoroughly enmeshed in its worries about personal material well-being, it still thinks within the categories of the market both for goods and labour; it could not even exist otherwise. How can it find the strength to overcome this, and how can it be helped?
For ages, capitalist society coped almost spontaneously with its problems. Of course, capitalism is not everlasting and can not cope with all the ever more acute problems which develop. The growth of the general crisis of capitalism (and it grows steadily) compels the bourgeoisie to become ever more organized, which directly contradicts its individualistic essence. The internal contradictions of an organized bourgeoisie appear, ever more clearly, in the rapid growth of corruption and all kinds of other crime, even in the most bourgeois environments. However, what is necessary for the preservation of capitalist production relations, i.e. the very basis of capitalist society, is determined by capitalism.
The natural interest of the bourgeoisie play the decisive organizational role in capitalist society. They subordinate and coordinate the interests of all layers of society, among them the individualistic interests of workers. Only the interests of the organized, revolutionary proletariat are capable of opposing them. In other respects the bourgeoisie is fearless in taking upon itself the whole burden of organizing production and society; it fearlessly awards itself full dictatorial powers and thus realizes its dictatorship.
Motivated by the striving for the accumulation of capital, that is the battle for maximum profit, in order to achieve its aims the bourgeoisie requires the steering of social relations along the course necessary to it, i.e. the path of the realization of a range of functions of a defined form which correct social relations. Thus society can be bound by a definite system of relations, but these must be obtained at the price of conscious effort.
The most important of these functions are;
Capitalist productive capacity has been historically stable because the bourgeoisie's success in satisfying the interests of practically all layers of society is dependent on the satisfaction of their own interests. We should not ascribe any great intellectual merit to the bourgeoisie on this account. They did not consciously shape this state of society, but rather this arose spontaneously by the will of objective law, which generalizes the various tendencies in the individual strategies of each bourgeois. The point is, that the final stage of spontaneous development of human society, in which collective interests appear as the replacement for individual interests (as distinct from the summation of the individual interests) can be organized in no other way than on the basis of revolutionary materialist theory, on the basis of the social realization of social tasks.
How a classless society will manage these problems, overcoming all individualist tendencies, actively, in a spirit of unity, bringing to life its collective will, is relatively easier to clarify. But, arriving victorious from the battle with the bourgeoisie, the proletariat is still far from able to completely give up the qualities inherited from capitalist society. Before it still lies the protracted labour of self-education and the liberation of its own consciousness from the historically interwoven path of bourgeois individualism.
This period in the life of the proletariat is extremely complicated and dangerous. Deeply rooted individualistic tendencies in the proletariat, even in the most proletarian environment, continue to erupt into activity, into the struggle for the acquisition of bourgeois (private) privileges; and on the foundation of masked forms of private property in the particular social situation, they construct definite personal dependencies and so forth. If any room for them exists in the fabric of society, such tendencies will inevitably create and shape a new bourgeoisie,
The danger is intensified by the necessity for the proletarian state to appeal to the individualistic side of the consciousness of society's members. Capitalism produces skills and methods of work but does not foster the desire for work. Therefore, in order to involve the members of society in the production process, the proletarian state will have to utilize bourgeois stimuli; this means satisfying individual interests and what is more, retaining them, even encouraging their development.
Implementing its dictatorship, the proletariat cannot avoid using an array of functions with bourgeois foundations; society is not ready for, nor capable of, their realization in another way. At the same time, the maintenance of proletarian class control is completely essential; or, in reverse, if control becomes the prerogative of whatever individual or group, not controlled in its turn by the whole class, the implementation of the dictatorship will become the business of this group, and will acquire a private, that is to say bourgeois, character, i.e. will signify the loss of the proletarian dictatorship.
The proletariat must not be under any illusion about the juridical, constitutional consolidation of its right to class control of the most important social functions. Genuine right, at root, always obeys not a juridical but an objective law acting on society. It is not a coincidence that in bourgeois democratic countries, the authorities, elected in a society where the absolute majority is composed of workers, inevitably constitute the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie.
The proletariat can not count upon the devotion and conscientiousness of its best representatives when placed in key positions; wherever the class is coping with emerging circumstances, to the individual representative this activity may appear to be out of control. And wherever control over the activities of the representatives is realized through their recallability, at will, by the class, such recallability must be guaranteed not only by law, but through the workings of natural social processes, otherwise it will become a fiction.
In order to realize its historic aim, the development of a classless communist society, the proletariat requires not only the seizure of power but also the maintenance of its own dictatorship on all paths of development. And for this it is absolutely essential that the proletariat understand; firstly, the key points in the social system which it must bring under its class control; secondly, the method for realizing such control, and thus those objective laws of social development which guarantee the realization of this control; and thirdly, the proletariat must also master those social laws, the use of which would allow it, taking account of its own strength, to reestablish its control should it be weakened or lost. The power of the organized proletariat thus appears as a reliable guarantee in all its undertakings; but only if it does not lose its clear sense of purpose, its focus on the movement toward communism.
The proletariat must be able to implement its dictatorship. This does not arise spontaneously, on the contrary, any spontaneity leads to degradation, to bourgeois breakdown. Only the highest organization of the spontaneous striving of the proletariat toward collective resolution of social problems, together with the knowledge and continuous development of revolutionary theory, can give the proletariat the right to the leading position in society.
The proletariat must begin its mastery of the social possibilities for the consistent realization of its dictatorship with the study of the experience of its class enemy, the bourgeoisie.
The bourgeoisie began with the organization of production. Only by seizing for itself the combination of labour with the means of production, did the bourgeoisie obtain the possibility of appropriating surplus product. The division of labour, the development of new technologies and ever greater specialization; all these guaranteed its victory over the previous mode of production.
Thus, at the first stage, everything is decided by the organizing power of capital. Capitalist accumulation, serving as the aim of the capitalist, simultaneously compels him to search for means with which to raise the productivity of labour, and assists in solving the problem of the concentration of capital.
At the second stage, the competition between the capitalists themselves appears decisive; this is the battle for the market. In this battle only those who get the highest productivity from labour, who own the largest share of production, who bring goods to market at the lowest prices, can be victorious. It is at this stage that the law of maximum profit fully manifests itself as the fundamental economic law of capitalism. Maximum profit; this is the capital essential for the opportune restructuring of production, for each restructuring in its turn brings superprofits which arise from a temporary monopoly of a perfected, more progressive technology.
After which, the third stage is reached when further technological perfection requires protracted research, larger capital investment and is tied to an ever more protracted restructuring. The risk for the individual capitalist becomes immeasurably great; beginning such a profound restructuring, he has no guarantee that tomorrow one of his competitors may not produce a more perfect, revolutionary technology, requiring a less drawn out restructuring and a smaller investment. Such a guarantee is provided by the banding together of capitals, through growing monopolization, and so capitalism acquires its monopolistic character.
And later, at the fourth stage, capitalism arrives at a dead end just before an era of vast technological change. These future changes demand such a general approach, abolishing the boundaries between branches of production, that capitalism is not destined to see such restructuring. Capitalism can't carry out such complicated research; it is impossible to keep it secret, but the loss of monopoly is equivalent to a useless expenditure of money. The most that capitalism is capable of is to entrust such research to the state or inter-state organization (these are the highest form of capitalist unity.) But the bourgeois state, being in a position to conduct research into complicated problems has absolutely no intention of doing so in the realm of increasing the effectiveness of production, for this could only result in the intensification of social contradictions. Herein, incidentally, lies the technological crisis, the technological side of the general crisis of capitalism.
What can be extracted from the history of capitalism?
Capitalism arises in society where there already exists a highly developed notion of property, where property already appears as the most important among the affirmations of the individual in society, and completes the development of the notion of private property in the consciousness of society, taking it to the limit.
Correspondingly, in establishing itself, capitalism pursues only one aim, accumulation, the extension of private property. But private property interests the bourgeoisie in one completely defined form, the form of capital. For only private property in the means of production provides the possibility of the appropriation of newly created value in the form of surplus product, it provides accumulation.
Continuous expansion accompanies the growth of capital, leading to the growth of competition, to the exacerbation of the struggle in the markets both for goods and for labour power. The struggle for monopoly ownership of highly productive production techniques speeds up the tempo of technical progress; while the exposure, the destruction of these temporary monopolies in the course of competition, makes the results of technical achievement accessible to the whole of society.
But the possibilities for expansion are bounded. Their further development requires ever greater concentrations of capital. Capitalism becomes monopolistic, and this makes a mockery of the competitive struggle. With the result that, in defence of the production branch monopolies, the achievements of technical progress cannot be revealed to society. In conditions of monopoly capitalism, technical progress loses its decisive significance since the bourgeoisie obtains the possibility of supporting its profits by other means. Thus, the bourgeoisie ceases to play a progressive role in social development.
It is not hard to see that the pace of development in capitalist society is dictated by the bourgeoisie. Nor is it hard to understand that the possibility of bourgeois control of development in its own interests rests upon the ownership of the means of production, on private property.
But how, along what paths, does the bourgeoisie realize its possibilities?
Abstract human knowledge develops in parallel with the development of the creative skill of humanity. From time to time it is enriched by practice with completely new discoveries. But only the bourgeoisie recognizes, organizes and increases the army of the intelligentsia, placing it in the service of capital. The bourgeoisie compels the intelligentsia to worry about organization and the improvement of production, drawing it in to applied scientific research. This factor serves as the source of many of the achievements of capitalism, therefore we recognize it as a root cause, absolutely essential in its essence.
The first steps of capitalism are firmly tied to the division of labour. Speaking of which, merely noting the division of the production process into individual operations, and that new methods permit the use of less qualified labour power, and further that the reduction of the time required for the acquisition of essential skills itself provides a decisive advantage, would mean missing the most important point. The point is that the combination of individual operations into a single production process was itself divided from the labour process; in this way it became possible to divide these functions among individual categories of workers, to break the link between them and to oppose the organizers of production to the immediate producers. The result was that to the one fell the lot of labour, while, simultaneously, the others were liberated from labour in order to occupy themselves with improving productivity. Plainly, the essence lies in this division, although it was not historically the first division of a similar nature. Its particular character was imparted to it by the achievements of humanity at the level of development of the productive forces of the time.
The cooperation among craftsmen and their combination into guilds stimulated the intensification of labour, but did not assist in the dissemination of advanced methods of work even within the boundaries of the guild. On the contrary, each member of the guild had an interest in preserving his secrets. This held the development of production back; further movement demanded new stimuli, and these arose with the division of labour.
The separation of the organizers of production, singling them out as a particular category of workers, accompanied and strengthened the formation of the systems for the distribution of goods, stimulated their activities in the direction of raising the productivity of the labour of the immediate producers.
The guild master, himself formerly an immediate producer, became the production master and no longer took part in labour; but he remained interested in it since, the more completely the producers submitted to his command, the more productive the methods of work, the greater the value that would be expressed by their labour united in the final product.
Thus, the master also remained interested in guarding his organizational knowledge, his production secrets and the growth of a widespread circle of producers subordinated to him. The breaking of such a monopoly threatened to reduce the value of the resulting product. But, firstly, he had to reveal his knowledge to the producers. And secondly, the master was to find himself in a completely different situation.
The master-boss, master-capitalist, owning the means of production, openly strove to sell his product at the highest price; at a price including not just the essential labour added by the producers, but also a superprofit arising from his monopoly of organizational and technical knowledge.
The hired master, the master organizing production belonging to another owner, also strove to maximize the benefit obtained from his monopoly of knowledge. On the other hand, the owner strove to maximize his share of the profits and in relations with the hired master was clearly guided by this. Correspondingly, for the hired master, his share of the goods was defined depending on the extent of the superprofits received by the owner; the capitalist stimulated the interest of the master only in the increase of superprofits which were appropriated by the capitalist.
The paths of the master-capitalist and the hired master were sharply divergent. The capitalist no longer needed to possess a monopoly of knowledge himself, he bought this knowledge, paying for it with a part of the superprofits to which it gave rise. By appropriating the surplus labour and a share of the superprofit the capitalist guaranteed his existence in the world of competitive struggle.
The hired master was obliged to sell his knowledge, capabilities and creative potential under the conditions of competitive struggle, where the measures and criteria by no means served the master himself, but always the superprofits of the capitalist.
The capitalist was ready to pay for any knowledge, invention, discovery, effective method of raw materials preparation, marketing, methods of organization or production technology, any ideal goods, so long as they brought him superprofits. All this assisted the formation of a particular layer of society, the intelligentsia, whose specific function became the continuous development of the organizational knowledge of the capitalists.
The increase in the productivity of labour was and remains the fundamental method for the creation of superprofits. It would be a mistake to suppose that increasing productivity of labour increases the immediate profit of the capitalist, permitting him to appropriate a larger share of the surplus product. Indeed, such redistribution is only possible because the resulting product, realized at its value, exceeds the quantity of labour actually materialized in it; but this arises because the given capitalist has a definite advantage in methods of work, i.e. possesses a definite monopoly of these methods. The breaking of this monopoly leads to the lowering of the value of the resulting product and the loss of the capitalist of the superprofits, although he clearly still makes a profit.
This is important to note, in order to understand that the labour of the intelligentsia (ideal, creative labour) neither creates value nor increases it. All value is created solely by the labour of the workers. However, clearly the intelligentsia provides an increase of the effectiveness of production in a well-defined sense, that of the "in natura" increase of the resulting product. In the bourgeois this fact gives rise not to joy, but worry, for it threatens to produce a crisis of overproduction. But the bourgeois does not want to drop out of the race for maximum profit, or the linked pursuit of superprofits, and, consequently, can not oppose this process.
Thus, separately stimulating the productivity of labour through its intensification, (payment for labour power) and heightening the productivity of labour through improved organization, (payment for the creative labour of the intelligentsia) the capitalist wages the struggle for maximum profits, which are composed of surplus value and superprofits arising from the activity of the intelligentsia.
The bourgeoisie creates nothing with its own hands, it achieves its aims by commanding the activities of others. It is the labour of the proletariat that creates capital for the bourgeoisie. The organizers of production concern themselves with raising the share of labour appropriated by the bourgeoisie to the highest level. The creative intelligentsia produces inventions in order that the bourgeoisie can extract its superprofits. And all this because the bourgeoisie undividedly holds in its hands one social obligation, the distribution of labour and material goods.
No, it is not omnipotent in this question, its possibilities are limited by the objective laws of capitalist society. But the capitalist clearly knows these laws and does not miss even a single one of the opportunities which they afford him.
Through competitive haggling in the market for labour power, he obtains labour power, but only such labour power, according to qualification, age, and other measures, from which he is able to extract, under the concrete conditions, the greatest quantity of surplus labour.
The capitalist hires production organizers only, to the extent necessary, in order that they will worry about raising the productivity of labour and thus maximize his superprofits. He also hires lawyers, specialist in commercial operations and other employees to worry about his superprofits, but these are already outside the production sphere.
The capitalist finances scientific research and technical creativity, but only as an advance against the superprofits which monopoly ownership of new achievements, new knowledge, will bring.
So the capitalist accomplishes the distribution with a quantitative measure of goods, wages.
In choosing the direction of development of production, his orientation to the output of definite goods, (and the capitalist always does this himself,) relying on the analysis of market conditions and production forecasts done by hired specialists, he participates in the production of a definite qualitative composition by society. In so far as he grabs a corner of the existing market, he necessarily must take into account the existence of a social demand and try to satisfy that demand.
And when, in the end, the capitalist has managed the distribution of goods, it turns out that the distribution of labour has also already been decided. It decided how many and which specialists he needed, which workstations the workers manned and what the intelligentsia occupied themselves with. The capitalist in no way intends to separate these questions; those who bring in the profits receive the goods. As for the rest, the capitalist is not troubled; because each, struggling to increase the quantity of goods for himself, provides an increase in the profits for him, there is a convergence of interests.
Of course, there are class contradictions in the world; when the proletariat becomes more organized for struggle, the capitalist can not decide his problems in a one-sided manner, without the support of other forces. In order to manage society in the interests of private property, the bourgeoisie simply must direct social movement into those channels where it can place its dams and dikes. This channel is the channel of private property, and its banks are whole sum of the social relations of the capitalist world, and in the first place, the entire power of its organizations, supporting and shaping these relations. The grandest of these organizations is the bourgeois state with its numerous means of control over society.
State power in the majority of capitalist countries is formed from very democratic beginnings. This does not prevent it however, from remaining the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. Universal suffrage hardly frightens the bourgeoisie, even in conditions where the industrial proletariat makes up a large part of the population. Why are a handful of capitalists completely unconcerned about the outbreak of a struggle for power?
Because, in the struggle for power, strength prevails, not numbers. And the formula for strength in society has a simple form; numbers plus organization. Uniting in political parties, buying the intellectually developed part of humanity practically whole, disposing of the organizing power of the mass media, financing various societies and single-minded campaigns, the bourgeoisie does not simply shape social opinion in its support, it suppresses, muffles and drowns in the general noise the voices of the opponents of its ideology. The organizing capabilities of wealth, money and property, these are what assist the bourgeoisie, not just in the reproduction of capital but in the reworking of society.
Through natural stinginess, the bourgeoisie misses, and in the future will continue to miss, those moments when the organization of the proletariat and general left forces reaches levels dangerous to it, as was the case, for example, in Chile in 1970. But then all is still not lost for them. If under normal "democratic" conditions, the bourgeoisie prefers to deal with the proletariat, spending the necessary minimum part of its profits on organization, the threat of giving up private property in general compels it to give up more. Then, neither regretting nor stinting, the bourgeoisie will lay out money on the creation of a fascist regime. Fascism is the other side of bourgeois democracy. It is also a dictatorship, but in an unadorned form. Under "democratic" conditions the bourgeoisie prefers to conduct the struggle with the proletariat by democratic means; it obstructs the organization of the proletariat with broad ideological pressure, bringing chaos into the workers own single-minded trend and financing bourgeois organizations sufficiently for oppositional activities. With fascism, such organizational advantages secure for the bourgeoisie the forcible destruction of workers organizations and the direct liquidation of proletarian organizational centres through arrests and executions. For the bourgeoisie this is a further loss, and brings complications in the economy, but they know that these are hard times. With the damage, destruction, the loss of its best cadre and existing connections, the workers organizations leave the system and withdraw from the political arena. And when fascism becomes unnecessary, they can write it off on the quiet, and having reestablished their organizational advantage over the uncoordinated proletarian forces within the framework of a most peculiar bourgeois "democracy," they curse, for a long while, about the vileness of the fascist terror, portraying it a as an isolated black spot on the otherwise pure democratic history of capitalist society.
This is how the bourgeoisie settles its organizational problems. By comparison with this the regulation of personal relations is a trifling matter. Here just one condition is necessary, namely, that bourgeois state asserts the inviolability of private property, with all its legislation, courts and weapons. Of course, in every concrete case each concrete capitalist also tries to grab that which the law has not offered. Each bourgeois gets, with difficulty, the idea that justice is good and that it is for the powerful. And, of course, all of this gives rise to a vast system of corruption and the making of deals among the powerful bourgeois against the whole of society. But these are the particulars of capitalist existence.
So, the private property interest of the bourgeoisie serve in capitalist society as the most important organizational basis. The process of realization of these interests, the sum of the activities undertaken by the bourgeoisie for their satisfaction, simultaneously appears both as the implementation of a range of social functions, without which the cooperative activity of the members of society would lack completeness, and as the whole, essential for the existence of society.
Are all similar functions fulfilled by the bourgeoisie itself? Definitely not. Really, wherever it turns out to be possible, the bourgeoisie draws in the intelligentsia. All leading posts in capitalist society are handed out to the intelligentsia. State functionaries right up to the very highest come from the intelligentsia. Technical and commercial leaders at all ranks come from the intelligentsia. Also, to the intelligentsia falls all ideological work. The creative potential of the intelligentsia is exploited by the capitalist world with all its might.
This situation of the intelligentsia, together with the developing depersonalization of capital, in the form of joint stock companies and other forms of capitalist cooperation, permit many bourgeois ideologues to speak about the retreat of capitalism from key positions, about the passing of power to the hands of the intelligentsia and its formulation, cooperatively, according to its laws of the commercial-technical systems, of progressive economic policy, supposedly independent of the capitalists, not answerable to them. This is a lie, because never have the capitalists given up control over the distribution of goods to anyone, because in granting to the intelligentsia the right to lead, the bourgeoisie retains for itself the right to decide the direction, because the capitalists are ready to pay for the activities of any administrator, politician or engineer, the activity of any system, just so long as they meticulously fulfill their principal obligation to the capitalists, the provision of maximum profit for them.
However important the position of the intelligentsia in bourgeois society might appear to be, the bourgeoise, while permitting it to do as it pleases, does not allow it to go beyond the bounds of what is comfortable for the bourgeoisie.
And for all that, the intelligentsia plays its highly essential role in bourgeois society. The individualistic worldview, the firm graft onto bourgeois society, the accessibility to the intelligentsia of all posts, the appearance of being the source of social structure, in combination with the practical experience of the intelligentsia in resolving major and minor problems on the basis of calculation and reasoned agreement, gives rise to the specific convictions of the intelligentsia, the belief in the possibility of stabilizing society and strengthening its rational foundation. At the heart of every intellectual is his completed model for restructuring society, which consists of the removal of such obstacles as he has experienced in his personal relations with society, and the illogicality of whose existence appears self-evident to him. Remaining outside the heat of class conflict, and untroubled by the analysis of class forces and class interests, the intelligentsia proves itself not to be in a position to (nor, indeed, does it manifest any powerful striving to) understand that everything taken by him as an obstacle is at heart an expression of the real and unavoidable class contradiction, that these "obstacles" give him knowledge of the iron grip of the capitalist, affirming his interests.
Such a spiritual atmosphere gives rise in the midst of the intelligentsia to a mass of theories of the "rational," but in fact wholely idealistic and thus groundless, organization of society. All these theories play into the hands of the bourgeoisie, for they distract the thinking part of humanity from participation in class struggle, they mask the genuine source of social contradiction. But even more important, the apparent attainability of Utopian social structures shapes in the intelligentsia a definite caste viewpoint. This leads them to think of themselves as a class capable of taking on the whole responsibility for the fate of society. This mass delusion, sprouting in the fertile soil of hypertrophied self-love, characteristic of the intelligentsia, conceals from it its own secondary, service role in society. The bourgeoisie keenly supports these maniacal prejudices, for the intelligentsia, in its confusion, reliably serves the bourgeoisie; when it sees more clearly, becoming conscious of the obligatory character of its service, it is capable of making the revolutionary choice and serving the proletariat.
The fact that in capitalist society, the very existence of the intelligentsia is called forth by the demands of the bourgeoisie and is possible only under its supervision, not unnaturally, only assists the strengthening of the caste mentality. These same activities of capital, taken by the intelligentsia as annoying obstacles, provide a definite equilibrium in capitalist society, its wholeness and coordination; they prevent the intelligentsia from testing the groundlessness of its theories and so support the intelligentsia's belief that peace and order exist exclusively thanks to its efforts.
Two consequence of this state of affairs directly touch the interests of the proletariat. Firstly, the social caste outlook of the intelligentsia closes it in on itself and cuts it off from the proletariat, and this results in serious damage to the development of the proletariat's world-encompassing ideology and weakens the organizational work without which the proletariat can neither prepare for nor enter into the decisive class battle. Secondly, after the victory of the proletariat, however much it may need the creative potential of the intelligentsia, it cannot trust it; striving to realize in practice its numerous personal theories, unavoidably leads the intelligentsia to a single non-contradictory combination of them, to the resurrection of capitalist relations.
In order not only to win power, but not to lose it anew, in order to be able to bring order after victory, the proletariat is obliged to know all these mysteries of capitalist society and all the social forces existing in it. Before it lies the task of taking them as an inheritance, transforming them and directing them to the construction of the new society.